LED ZEPPELIN ‘DESTROYER’ : DRGM #505 – Distinguishing the Soundboard, 1st Night in Cleveland, from the Audience Recording of the 2nd, as Released on Smilin’Ears Plus Variations of the Soundboard Release

Few bootlegs get mixed up as much these two:

Led Zep The Destroyer 4LP swAbove, THE DESTROYER (SE 77-300) the audience recording from the second night in Cleveland on the Smilin’ Ears 4 LP box and DESTROYER (DRGM #505):


Led Zep Destroyer orig 3Led Zep Destroyer orig 4Led Zep Destroyer orig detail

Led Zep Destroyer orig 2


A UK bootleg 4 LP box set, released in the early 1980’s as DRGM #505. I believe this was the first ever release of a Led Zeppelin soundboard recording. The best sounding version of the first night.  The quarter deluxe wrap-around insert over a black box shows a blue head and shoulders shot of Jimmy with his Gibson EDS-1275 double neck guitar and a distinct large red font. “Black Country Woman” not listed. Deluxe labels with the correct date in the European format. The spine says “Seattle August 77”. This version is harder to find than the later US made copies.

Side 1: Song Remains/Sick Again (9:52) / Nobody’s Fault But Mine (6:25)
Side 2: In My Time Of Dying (10:36) / Since I’ve Been Loving You (8:05)
Side 3: No Quarter (19:20)
Side 4 Ten Years Gone (8:43) / Battle Of Evermore (5:42) / Going To California (4:06)
Side 5: Guitar Intro – Achilles Last Stand (19:30)
Side 6: White Summer – Black Mountain Side – Kashmir (13:15) / Stairway To Heaven (9:52)
Side 7: Black Country Woman/Bron-y-Aur Stomp (6:45) Rock & Roll (3:03) / Trampled Underfoot (6:26)
Side 8: Out On The Tiles / Moby Dick (15:56)


Coming back to why these copies say “Seattle” but list the correct date is a bit puzzling to me, especially when inferring that the producers of the European DESTROYER named their version after the Smilin’ Ears bootleg and knew that the recording had been made in Cleveland. I can appreciate that they may only have been given a cassette tape with the date “27.04.77” on it but did they think the band played in Seattle on the 27th and then managed to transport themselves and all of their equipment 2,000 miles to the East on the 28th and do it all again?

While we know how the recording came to be in the first place, I’d love to know how it filtered down to the UK ‘producers’ from the US:

“Bill B’s notes:
D.F. and I would coach the Seattle Kingdome video director (N.W.) on songs to be played at upcoming major shows. Basically he was “studying up” on song placement and solos to be expected. Having worked at both the Superdome and in Cleveland, N.W. had friends at other venues. He simply asked a friend working the show in Cleveland to get him a copy of the show and fire it off to us in Seattle. The guy brought in his home deck, walked up to the board, and being on the crew they plugged him in. Just that simple.


The US copies:

Same matrix number as the original but not from the same plates. Sound quality not as good as the original (rated “Very good stereo ” vs. “Excellent stereo“) plus introducing a mastering mistake, where “Kashmir” is abruptly interrupted with bits of “Stairway To Heaven”. Available as a white or black box and the famous plastic case version with the handle. Sometimes quite a lot of money is asked for the ‘carrying case’ version, more than for a UK original. The location has been corrected to Cleveland while there is at least one out there that still says “Seattle”, so I am not sure, which one was really the first.


1.b: 4 LP box – black & white, states “Seattle” on the wrap-around insert:

Led Zep Destroyer Seattle black

Led Zep Destroyer Seattle bIt’s a 4 LP set, part of the track list is just missing.


Led Zep Destroyer Seattle



2. Plastic case version, ca. 1982:

Led Zep Destroyer boxLed Zep Destroyer box b detail

Back cover shows an incorrect date – June 24 1977 – and claims John Bonham himself allowed the use of the tape – which is probably a figment of imagination in the minds of the bootleggers. The plastic case exists in different color shades from white to brown.

Led Zep Destroyer box innerLed Zep Destroyer box discsLed Zep Destroyer box n discs




3. White & black box version (the plastic case version must have come first as all inserts say this, even when offered in a simple cardboard box):

Led Zep Destroyer box cardbLed Zep Destroyer box cardb detail

Led Zep Destroyer box bla




4. Reissue with fake smoking pig logo?:

Led Zep Destroyer RE m sm pigLed Zep Destroyer RE matrix


5. “The Starship” image box with copied (?) original labels. Not sure when this was released.

Led Zep D promo box RE



6. The Swingin’ Pig European 3 LP version on grey marbled PVC, copying the look of the original UK release, released in 1990, limited & numbered:

Led Zep Destroyer SwPig

argenteumastrum.com states the sound is now “Excellent mono” and that picture disc copies exist as well.


Led Zep Destroyer SwPig bLed Zep Destroyer SwPig lbl



Comments and additions welcome.


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